Building Religious Epistemic Capital Among Financial Firms: A Study of Malaysia's Islamic Wall Street
Chow, Yew Wah Jeffrey
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As financial activities continue to intensify on a global scale, states are exploring and investing in potential industries that promise immense wealth. In response to the significant growth within the Islamic financial industry, the Malaysian government made notable investment in their soft and hard institutions with a goal of engineering an Islamic Wall Street in Asia. This mode of financial capitalism draws its capacity from communities of religious and financial experts. Hence, these communities are said to possess specialized religious knowledge or "religious epistemic capital (REC)." Very little research has been conducted on REC. As such, this research seeks to understand the nature of REC and its corresponding effects on locational reputation. Specifically, this dissertation examines the following: (1) how do Islamic financial firms and Shariah scholars explain the nature and drivers of REC in Malaysia; (2) How do Islamic financial firms and Shariah scholars perceive the role of religious epistemic capital on Kuala Lumpur's reputational location for Islamic financial, sales and marketing activities. Based on interviews with Islamic scholars, the research results suggest that the nature of REC is characterized by the production and management of REC, norm construction, dissemination of knowledge, and the role of government. Knowledge generation is important in REC building. However, the systematic management of REC is equally important in making knowledge a productive asset. In terms of norm making, attitudes are identified as important drivers in the innovation and credentialing process. Having good communication skills was determined as an important contributor to the building and dissemination of epistemic knowledge which in turn provides marketplace competitive advantages. Government backing appears to be essential in driving REC particularly through the support of soft and hard institutions. Survey research results of financial executives within the Islamic financial industry show that knowledge circulation types are important for Kuala Lumpur's locational reputation for Islamic financial activities. On the other hand, knowledge circulation activities is seen as an important contributor to locational reputation for sales and marketing activities.